How to show off your record collection

Lost in music: John Cusack in the film adaptation of 'High Fidelity’
Lost in music: John Cusack in the film adaptation of 'High Fidelity’

If you’ve spent many years – and a lot of money – on your record collection, try Julian Mash’s tips to store it in a stylish way.

One of the few positive stories to have emerged from the music industry over the past few years has been the resurgence in vinyl sales.

Lost in music: John Cusack in the film adaptation of 'High Fidelity’
Lost in music: John Cusack in the film adaptation of ‘High Fidelity’

Where most physical sales have been plummeting, the format once thought dead is making a comeback. Last year 781,000 vinyl records were sold, the highest number since 1997.

Vinyl is the connoisseur’s choice, but it does have two major drawbacks: its lack of portability, and the amount of storage space it takes up.

I was reminded of this when I recently moved house, lugging 2,500 LPs with me. Musician and writer Bob Stanley had to do the same four years ago, moving his collection of 20,000 singles and 8,000 LPs first into storage and then his new flat.

Now his LPs sit in bespoke shelves, while his singles are accommodated in old Schweppes boxes, recovered from a record shop when it shut down. “My flat does look a lot like a record shop, which is quite weird,” he says.

Weird yet, surely, very reassuring. Anyone familiar with Nick Hornby’s novel High Fidelity will recall the moment where Rob Fleming sits on his living room floor after breaking up with his girlfriend, surrounded by piles of records that he is arranging chronologically, mapping his life through his music purchases. It is difficult to imagine sitting in front of a glowing computer screen and rearranging your iTunes as quite so romantic a vision.

Vinyl is much more durable than CDs, but there are a few things that must be avoided.

Sunlight is no friend of vinyl, and it is worth keeping records out of direct sunlight as they are liable to warp or become faded. “I had an Elvis single on HMV that I had cleaned and then left on the draining dish rack before going out, forgetting about it until the following day. By the time I got to it, it had warped,” sighs Stanley. Cats are another worry. I was thrilled to see a new collection being priced up recently. Rare prog, folk and psych gems winked at me from the pile. It was only when they were turned round that I realised all the spines of the LPs were ripped to shreds. “The owner’s cat used his vinyl as a scratching post,” I was told. And that is why I shall never own a cat.

Realistically, keeping your prized Beatles Sgt Pepper mono press in good shape requires a plastic cover, but beware what type you choose.

A few years ago vinyl fans discovered that PVC record covers were damaging their albums. The PVC was reacting with the vinyl, causing the surface of the records to turn cloudy and sound dreadful.

If only someone had told the BBC in the Eighties.“The whole BBC archive collection of singles was kept in thin polythene tucked inside PVC sleeves so they sweated and many of them got fogged and sound terrible,” says Stanley. We both shudder, and head around the corner to check out a record shop. Spotting something I need, I grab it.

Well, I’m sure I can squeeze a few more in somewhere.


1 Ikea Kallax shelves perfectly fit LPs. There was an outcry when they announced they would stop producing the Expedit range but this new version thankfully still fits vinyl.

2 Wooden crates such as Schweppes boxes for singles, or old beer or milk bottle boxes for LPs work really well. They are now highly sought after, but you can find them in vintage shops for about £30.

3 Avoid solid PVC covers and go for the polythene ones.

4 Avoid sunlight unless you want your favourite Cure LP warped beyond recognition.

5 Do not stack records on top of one another. This will result in dishing – where the album will bend out of shape

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